These days, prevention is the true key to health because we have an increased life expectancy and we want those extra years to be enjoyable, while at the same time, we lead a more sedentary lifestyle and eat less healthy foods than people did one hundred years ago. But it’s hard to know what prevention strategies to use when there are so many health conditions to prevent. So what is the key to prevention?
Health screens help people recognize when a disease has entered the body and help to prevent further development and deterioration in an effort to reverse or halt the issue. But not every disease is reversible and taking that route can be long, arduous and costly, not to mention disruptive to one’s life. The real avenue to health is to prevent diseases from arising in the first place.
Everyone responds to treatments and prevention methods differently, and different people will get different diseases based on their family history, lifestyle and personal genetic makeup. One person can try to prevent heart disease but then end up with diabetes, and another person might put effort into a general prevention strategy but neglect certain lifestyle changes unknowingly that would have allowed them to prevent cancer. Someone might take a vitamin that they don’t even need simply because they have heard that it does great things, while neglecting to take something that they are actually deficient in. So how do you know what you should be trying to prevent?
Until we know how to predict what we need to prevent, it’s all just a guessing game. That’s why the key to prevention is prediction. When you can predict your risk factors for certain diseases, you know what you need to work on, and then you can work together with your healthcare provider(s) to develop a personalized care plan that removes the guesswork and makes your prevention plans more effective.
With the study of genomics and genome sequencing, we have come a long way in the science of healthcare, and we can now make predictions about genetic risk factors with a decent amount of accuracy. The more people participate in sharing their genetic data, the more accurate our predictions will become (one of the many reasons it is so important to share your data).
Here’s the formula to health:
Predicting Risk Factors + Personalized Care Plan = Prevention, i.e. Health
The study of the human genome is also known as precision medicine. It allows healthcare providers to provide better healthcare that is more personalized and more effective at predicting, preventing and treating the health of their patients. As more data is collected, genomics will become more and more precise at predicting the health conditions that each of us could encounter in our lifetime.
The more informed something is, the more effective it can be, and usually the easier the path is to make it happen. Since precision medicine allows physicians to make more informed decisions, they can provide more effective care for their patients.
By predicting the risk factors that are genetically probable for their patients through genomic testing, physicians can come up with a personalized care plan for their patients that is more informed and therefore more effective. They can take into account the health risks that they are more susceptible to, along with their family history and their lifestyle to determine the best course of action for their preventative plan.
Physicians can also use genomic data about their patients to make informed therapeutic decisions and to prescribe with more confidence. Instead of prescribing by trial and error, doctors are able to know their patients’ responses to medications according to genetic makeup before even prescribing them. This helps to reduce adverse drug reactions and the wasted time and money that is spent on trying different treatments and medications.
As you can see, it doesn’t make sense to try to prevent everything without first predicting what might come up for you as an individual. While we should all take measures to make healthy lifestyle decisions in our lives, we also need to understand our genetic makeup so we can take extra measures to prevent those conditions we are more likely to end up with. Start with prediction and prevention becomes easier and more effective!